Atchafalaya Basin may not be Louisiana's biggest city, but it certainly has a big draw. History Channel fans know the town well as the host to the hit show, Swamp People. We sat down to have a chat with Troy Landry, "King of the Swamp" and one of our personal favorite gator hunter. Troy told us about the show and how his life has changed since the cameras started rolling. Here's a little of what he had to say.
On how his life has changed since the show:
"It's changed a lot but all in a positive way. There's 5,000 other alligator hunters out there, and we were fortunate enough to be the ones on this show. Everywhere we go, people recognize us and they get excited. It's like they're meeting some real movie stars or something."
On the attention the gator industry has received:
"Since the show came out and showed us fishing alligators, it's been very positive for the sale of alligator meat. The demand for alligator meat has almost doubled since the show came out. It don't look like it affected the hide or skin sales as much but it has affected it a little bit to the positive. I really think it's going to eventually affect hide sales too."
His favorite way to eat gator:
"I love grilled alligator. Grilled gator is very good. We pan fry it, and we make a sauce piquante, a stew, that's very good. The leg is red meat and we make a stew with that. The white meat, we like to grill it or fry it up or put it on the fire pit."
What's his family think of his newfound celebrity:
"Everybody in my family is so excited, even my momma. My momma went to the doctor last week in Baton Rouge, and when she told somebody she was from Pierre Part, they asked, 'Do you know the Swamp People?' She said, 'Yeah, one of them is my son.' My momma told me she had to take pictures with these people and sign autographs for them. It's unbelievable, yeah, it's unbelievable."
On concerns of how the show might portray his way of life:
"Mostly I was worried about—I didn't want them to show too much of the killing part of the alligator. It's real nasty in the boat; at the end of the day, it gets ugly. I was really worried they were going to make it a blood battle on TV. I find History Channel did an awesome job. They show us harvesting the gator but didn't focus a whole lot on the killing part. They showed a lot of our families. We live simple down here because that's the way we choose to live, you know. ... I grew up in the bayous and the swamps, and I'm happy where I'm at and doing what I'm doing, and the History Channel did an awesome job of showing the way we live. It's all positive."
On his signature striped polo shirt:
"It is my lucky shirt, and I had about seven or eight of 'em and I'm down to about three now. I'm trying to find me some new ones, and the wife can't find none that's exactly the same. So, ah, I don't know what I'm gonna do in the future. ... I need to find me some new ones and we've been looking, and they are hard to find exactly like that. But it is my lucky shirt. That's why I catch all those big ones—I always wear that shirt."
(Editor's Note: Troy's wife bought the shirts in bulk from Kohl's. They are Ralph Lauren brand.)
On hunting with a camera crew tagging along:
"Of course, the more people you've got in harm's way, the more dangerous it is and the more careful you have to be. But, you know, it's all worked out good. We take our time more now that we've got the camera people with us. We slow down a little bit and take our time more than we used to. I love my camera man and I treat him like he's part of my family. When I do something in the boat that he don't like, he threatens to tell my wife or tell my momma on me. When they came down this year to film season two, I told them the only way I'd do it is if I had my same camera man with me."
How he spends his time outside of alligator-hunting season:
"Right now, when we're not busy with alligators, looking for alligators, and looking where we're going to fish next year, we are trying to supply the rest of the world with crawfish. We're catching crawfish, selling crawfish. That's what I do in the off-season. We start in late November, after Thanksgiving, we start trying to catch farm-raised around the Lafayette area, and then in February and early March, we'll also go in the Atchafalaya Basin in the swamp and catch wild crawfish. That's what we do--we're trying to feed 'em. If not with crawfish, we feed 'em with alligators."
On what he hopes people learn about the Cajun way of life:
"I hope they just see us for who we are: good-hearted, hard-working people. We never meet a stranger. We try to make everybody welcome. Most of the people in south Louisiana and also in north Louisiana feel the same way. Just for a perfect example: The History Channel, when they send the crew down here to film us, we cook for these people four or five times a week. My home is their home while they're here, you know what I'm saying? We live simple; we don't have a lot and we don't want a lot. We just have what we need. I'm not worried about the Joneses down the street. I don't worry at all about what other people have. I just make sure we have what we need, and we've always been blessed. We've always made our living off the land."
On where we can find him hanging out when he's not on the swamp:
"My daddy owns a little bait shop; he sells bait and all to the crawfishermen and the crabbers and all that. I'm usually hanging around there drinking coffee in the mornings or drinking beer in the afternoons and shooting the bull. Duffy's Shell station.
Learn more about Swamp People. Also read about Five Experiences for Swamp People Fans. Take a swamp tour of your own with companies like Dr. Wagner's Honey Island Swamp Tours and Cajun Pride Swamp Tours.